Mike Parker: The miracle of the Neuse II depends on your support
I realize, as a member of the board of directors for the CSS Neuse Foundation, that I may be wearing my ironclad gray-colored glasses. Still, I see the CSS Neuse II as nothing short of a community miracle. Construction on this replica Confederate ironclad began in 2002. Alton Stapleford generously donated his time, expertise and experience to turn Ted Sampley’s vision into a 158-foot reality.
In the process, hundreds of area residents showed up to assist with the project that now sits on the corner of Herritage and Gordon streets – an attraction that drew nearly 5,500 visitors during 2017.
On Friday, Nov. 2, the CSS Neuse Foundation will host its rescheduled “Wings Over the Neuse,” the foundation’s single largest annual fundraiser. Sales and delivery will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 2, and continue until all wings have flown the coup.
This year marks the 10th edition of "Wings Over the Neuse." Originally, this year’s “Wings” was set for Sept. 14, but we all fully know that Hurricane Florence paid our area a multi-day visit beginning that Friday. Her strong winds blew our plans off course.
We use this event to offer special thanks to our sponsors. A Platinum Sponsor donated at least $500 and receives recognition on a banner displayed before and after the event. The Platinum Sponsor also receives up to 25 wing plates to be delivered to a location of choice.
This year, each Platinum sponsor will also be listed as a Flag Officer on the permanent Fleet Officers plaque kept inside the CSS Neuse II – an ongoing testimony of support for the CSS Neuse II.
A Gold Sponsor donated at least $250. Recognition includes having the sponsor’s name appear on a banner with one other Gold-level sponsor and receiving up to 12 complimentary wing plates delivered to the address the sponsor designates.
Each Silver Sponsors donated a minimum of $100. Each sponsor’s name appears on a banner with several other Silver sponsors. Silver sponsors may have up to five wing plates delivered to the location of choice.
Fundraising is the life-blood that enables the foundation to make improvements, pay utility and insurance costs, and fund repairs. Those of you who visit the CSS Neuse II regularly can easily see that progress.
In recent years, the foundation has added cannon tools for the replica Brooke Rifle. Courtesy of Don Baker of Kinston, the CSS Neuse II features 24 replica Brooke projectiles. We are in the process of manufacturing powder bags and have already added some coal bags to the display.
Our goal is simple: Enable those who visit the Neuse II to get a sense of what being aboard this Civil War ironclad was like.
Never forget: The CSS Neuse II is a work in progress.
Always remember: Community support makes that progress possible.
From start to finish, the CSS Neuse II stands in silent testimony to the commitment of this community to preserve and showcase our history. Whether a visitor takes in Harmony Hall, one of the two Civil War battlefields, the CSS Neuse Interpretative Center on Queen Street, or the CSS Neuse II, each visitor leaves with a sense of who we were, who we are, and who we are becoming.
Your support and contributions enable each of these representatives of our history from the American Revolution through the Civil War to survive and thrive.
Thank you in advance for your kindness and support.
See you Friday, Nov. 2.
And be sure to visit and thank each of our sponsors. Their generosity makes what we do at the CSS Neuse II possible.
Mike Parker is a columnist for Neuse News. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.